Tears of the Knife
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SD Fringe Festival: Tears of the Knife

Tears of the Knife. Ah, the Fringe Festival! Where else in San Diego can you walk into a theater and see a hanged man, his head in a gunny sack, looming above the stage? And where else will you experience Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu’s one-act Dada-ist opera, in which young Eleonora falls head over toes for the Hanged Man?

Though she can’t quite reach up to touch his hand, Eleonora worships the corpse. Against her mother’s wishes, Eleonora marries him and goes on a honeymoon. Of sorts.

The man was her neighbor, Mr. Saturn. But he transforms into Mr. Satan (bathed in beet-red hues by Matthew Novotny), who describes marriage with askew math terms.

This being a Dada-ist piece, logic is verboten: what is may be what is not. That pale gray moon, for example, might actually be a piñata?

Backed by expert musicians Bryan Verhoye and Mark Danisovszky (who snores during the long — too long — introductory speech), Christen Blair Horne (Eleonora), Sharmay Musacchio (Mother), and Jordan Miller (Satan) are vocally strong and appropriately spacey, given the opera’s warped terrain, where “the past and the future in turn spoil the present.”

Francessa D’Amico, Dylan DuMelle, and Isabella Valenzuela play three kids like a Greek chorus. They frolic, comment on the absurdities, and, late in the show, one circles the stage on a tricycle, and wears red horns.

SD Fringe Festival: My Mother's in the Audience

  • RAW Space, 923 First Avenue, downtown
  • $10

My Mother’s in the Audience. And she’s an eyewitness to an Agatha Christie-like series of vile murders. No. Make that a Scottish play-like series since, as in Shakespeare, the first has a domino-effect.

A Junior Theater will open Bard’s, um, “M.C. Beth” in two hours. Word has it that the National Theatre Board will also honor one of the Parental Coordinators who work backstage with a prestigious award. The four women have definite ranks: Debra’s in charge; Barbara does costumes; Linda, publicity; and Wanda is new (she’s only had “middle school experience” up to now, so they say she doesn’t count). But Wanda, who believes in art and truth, will do more than just fold programs.

Debra wants that award as much as Lady M. wants her husband to rule Scotland. Debra doesn’t like to see ambition in the lower ranks.

Jacob Surovsky’s play has unevenly written scenes. Some pop; some (like the scene with the director and his puppet) sag. But the premise is a hoot, and the dialogue throughout shows promise for the young playwright.

The Ellipsoid Players’ production felt under-rehearsed. The RAW Space has such lively acoustics that sounds rocket all around. Actors should project at the audience (and the younger actors should articulate more clearly as well).

This was an instance of veteran actors pulling a show together: Ed Hollingsworth as the director; Wendy Waddell as the Stage Mother from Hell (“I want a famous child!”); and a stark-raving (and sharply funny) Julie Sachs as Debra. To win the award, she draws a pentagram in chalk on the floor. She steps into it, and, like Dr. Faustus, conjures up You Know Who.

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